Why I don’t Take Calcium–#1

Throughout my nutritional studies, I learned that whole food, in its original God-created form, is the perfect “software” for our bodies. The design is perfect! I also learned that man-made synthetic supplements are not the perfect “software”. At best, they are only partially assimilated, so even if the label says 100% of the recommended daily value for a nutrient, you may only be absorbing about 10%. What’s happening to the other 90%?

The other consideration when taking supplements is that neither too much nor too little is beneficial. Both an excess and a deficiency of nutrients are determined by a fairly narrow range. Random supplementation can upset this balance. Small insufficiencies and excesses can contribute to many health problems.

Often, people ask me about taking calcium and other supplements. As a rule, I don’t recommend isolated supplements. Instead, I recommend eating a better diet and using supplements made from real, whole foods.

With that said, I am going to devote the next several newsletters to why I don’t take calcium and how it can actually be toxic in excess. I will be referencing the book Death by Calcium by Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, which is based upon much scientific research and many clinical studies over 25 years.

People in the US take more calcium than anywhere else in the world and have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. We are ranked 33rd in life expectancy and yet are number one in how much we spend on health care.

The current paradigm says that if we have weak bones, we must have a calcium deficiency, so therefore, we need to take calcium. Dr. Levy does not agree with this model.

To clarify, calcium is essential for bodily function but can be toxic in excess. It can promote disease where this excess accumulates. The crazy thing is that these calcium deposits can trigger more calcium to be released from the bones!

Almost without exception, those with osteoporosis have toxic levels of calcium outside of bone tissue. This excess can contribute to heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer. Excess calcium has also been implicated in fueling and accelerating chronic diseases.

Fifteen independent clinical studies indicate that taking an extra 500 mg. of calcium per day can increase the risk of heart attack by 30% and the likelihood of a stroke by up to 20%. There is also a greater risk of death from coronary heart disease and cancer. To make matters worse, the calcium supplementation failed to improve bone strength.

A study of more than 61,000 people over 19 years reported that those with a calcium intake of over 1400 mg. per day had a 40% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 114% increased risk of death from reduced flow of blood to the heart muscle.

Over one-third of Americans over the age of 45 have some arterial calcification. Much of this plaque is the accumulation of calcium salts.

Advanced MRIs found calcifications in 95% of malignant prostate glands.

Calcifications are frequently found on mammographies of women with breast cancer. Many breast biopsies are done due to these findings. Studies show that breast cancer patients who have calcifications are less likely to survive the disease than those who don’t.

A recently published study found a strong association between increased calcium levels and death from any cause.

Inhibiting calcium uptake seems to make cancer less invasive and less prone to grow new blood cells.

Chronically high levels of calcium in cells seems to play a significant role in degenerative neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS).

Calcium channel blockers are a group of drugs designed to inhibit the uptake of calcium into cells. They have been used effectively to treat high blood pressure and to reduce the events associated with high blood pressure. By limiting the uptake of calcium into cells, calcium channel blockers have an anti-atherosclerosis effect.

Studies that were done involving over 175,000 patients, using three common calcium channel blockers, found that all three significantly reduced death from all causes.

You may be wondering why you’re not hearing about this from your doctor. Between 2010 and 2013, there has been much published in medical literature journals about how calcium can accumulate in the body and become toxic from supplements and excess dairy consumption. Sadly, this information is buried and seldom read. Not to mention, that it is an overwhelming task to change the current business model that includes the medical establishment, dairy industry, and supplement companies, to an individual healthy lifestyle approach.

So, the real problem seems to be not that we have a lack of calcium in our diets, but that calcium is being relocated from our bones to other areas of the body. I’ll continue to explore this further in future newsletters.

If you want to start a conversation about this topic, feel free to post your questions or comments in the Facebook group.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

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Two Hormones that may be Contributing to Excess Belly Fat

To help balance your appetite, you need balanced levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin signals hunger and then decreases for approximately three hours after a meal.  When levels remain chronically high, abdominal fat is often formed, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Leptin signals fullness, affecting your appetite and metabolism.  The right amount is beneficial for weight control.  Studies have shown that foods can either block or increase leptin levels.  You neither want too little or too much.

Eating low-nutrient foods (sodas, refined flours, refined sugars, etc.) can block the production of leptin, which can keep you from feeling full and result in overeating.

Eating low-nutrient foods can also, over time, lead to chronically high leptin levels, and the body can become leptin resistant.  This is similar to how chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance.  Most diabetics are also leptin resistant.  Both conditions can contribute to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

The good news is that losing excess weight helps increase sensitivity to leptin!

Factors that affect ghrelin and leptin levels:

*MSG (monosodium glutamate) can decrease leptin levels (www.msgtruth.org).

*Omega-3 fats found in walnuts, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and seeds (flax, chia, hemp) help balance leptin levels.

*Eating approximately every four hours can help keep ghrelin levels from getting too high so your appetite doesn’t get out of control.

*Eating high-fiber foods can reduce ghrelin by helping you feel full.

*Refined sugars and refined grains increase ghrelin levels.

*Eating too few calories can interfere with ghrelin and leptin levels, actually contributing to weight gain.

*Eating protein at every meal and snack can help lower ghrelin levels.

*Less than seven hours of sleep each night can result in higher ghrelin levels and lower leptin levels.

*Too much stress affects everything, including ghrelin and leptin levels!

My Eat to be Healthy online program is now available!  This is the basic nutrition program that I use with my clients to help them lay a foundation of healthy eating.  I’ve packaged all the PDFs together into a do-it-yourself program, making it extremely cost effective–only $39!

You get 20 PDF documents that you can download to your computer or other device:

Eat to be Healthy Guide to give you a recommended plan of action.

Why Diets Don’t Work

Goal Setting Worksheet

Connecting the Dots template to help you keep track of what you eat and how you feel, along with a link to the Bristol Stool Chart so you can make poop observations.😛

The Healthy Plate Guide (ratio of protein, fat, starchy & non-starchy carbs)

The Healthy Plate Meal Planner Guide template (you can make copies)

and two weeks of Sample Meal Plan Menus

2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Seven Tips for Adding Healthy, Whole Foods

20 Healthy Snack Ideas

Guide to a Rainbow of Nutrients

Mindful Eating Tips

Water Works

Factors Affecting Weight Loss

Label Reading Guidelines

Eating Out Tips

List of Healthy Lifestyle Habits (three pages of recommended habits to learn)

Resources (a list of books, websites, apps, and more to help you eat to be healthy)

Scripture for Memorization and Encouragement (God-power vs. willpower)

As a special bonus, when you purchase this program through the link in this blog, I’ll send you a PDF of my 16-page Learning to be Healthy Recipes.

Of course, you can email me with any questions you have about the program and receive additional support, encouragement, and accountability in the private Facebook group:  www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa.

Here’s the link to get your Eat to be Healthy online program:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=U6KKG824BHUDJ

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

 

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

The Connection between Artificial Sweeteners, Blood Sugar, and Weight Loss

If you are using artificial sweeteners as a way to help control your weight or blood sugar, think again!

An Israeli study in 2014 found that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose) raised blood sugar levels in mice.  They followed up with research on approximately 400 non-diabetic individuals and found that consumption of artificial sweeteners increased their blood sugar levels similar to those found in the mice.

Artificial sweeteners also alter gut bacteria, which is an important part of blood sugar regulation.

It is well documented that chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to obesity.

A recent study of more than 3,000 pregnant women and their infants found that mothers who consumed more beverages containing artificial sweeteners were twice as likely to have children who were overweight than those who used less.  (Research led by Meghan Azad, assistant professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba.)

If that’s not enough to make you cautious about your intake of artificial sweeteners, here’s a few more thoughts:

A 2015 press release pointed out that the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that consumers avoid aspartame (NutraSweet is a brand name) and has urged food manufacturers not to use it.  CSPI based their recommendations on studies that link cancer, including brain tumors, to the consumptiontion of aspartame.

A study at the University of Iowa of almost 60,000 women found that, on average, those who consumed at least two or more diet sodas per day had a higher body mass index, as well as higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.  All of these conditions can contribute to heart disease.

A 2014 study at the University of North Dakota found a connection to neurological heath.  Those participants who maintained a short-term high-aspertame diet were more depressed and irritable. They also performed worse on spatial orientation tests.

The Journal of Applied Nutrition (1988) reported the results of a survey by the late Dr. H. J. Roberts, a diabetes specialist that analyzed the reactions of 551 individuals to NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption.  He found the most common reactions were headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, vision problems, depression, irritability, and anxiety attacks.

Dr. Roberts wrote a book, Aspartame Disease:  An Ignored Epidemic (published in 2001), in which he documents a more detailed account of the above reactions, along with less common reactions, like low blood sugar, bloating, skin problems, restless leg syndrome, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, thinning hair, blindness, burning urination, and joint pain.

Read the ingredients on all foods, beverages, gum, vitamins (especially children’s), and even over-the-counter drugs.  Aspartame alone is in an estimated 6,000 diet and sugar-free products!

If a label says it contains “phenylalanine,” aspartame is one of the ingredients.

Avoid saccharin, Sweet ‘n Low, sucralose, Splenda, aspartame, NutraSweet, and other artificial sweeteners.  You are not made of artificial ingredients, so they have no place in your body!

For a more complete list of artificial sweeteners, visit this link:  https://www.doctoroz.com/article/list-names-artificial-sweeteners

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

Need some help with planning healthy meals, along with daily health tips and motivation?  Check out my 6-Week Health Transformation!

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Eating outside the “Box”

After Hurricane Harvey, my household grew by seven–my daughter, son-in-law, three grandkids, and two granddogs.  My husband and I are thankful that we have a dry house where they can stay as they recover from the five feet of water that destroyed their apartment.

School has resumed, and my beautiful grandchildren are up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door shortly after 7:00.  Like so many families, mornings don’t allow much time for breakfast, and convenience foods like toaster pastries and granola bars are easy to grab and eat on the go.  These foods are mostly simple sugars, with insignificant amounts of protein and healthy fat, which are needed to give strength and sustained energy for learning, playing, and growing bodies and minds.

When I quiz them about what they have for school lunches, so far it’s been cheeseburgers, pizza, potatoes, etc.  One of my grandson’s classmates felt sorry for him since he lost his home, so he gave him a Honeybun.  That was a thoughtful act of kindness, but you can see that there’s no shortage of refined carbohydrates available to our children.

My mission as grandma and nutritionist is to find creative ways (outside the “box”) to get nutrients into their bodies so they’ll have the fuel they need to meet academic, physical, and social challenges.  It starts with me being present in the kitchen and dialoguing with them about how food affects their brain and body.  We talk about eating outside the “box”.

I appealed to my 12-year-old grandson by telling him that he needs protein to build muscle.  I offered him a snack bag filled with a handful of raw cashews to put in his back pack.  I cooked some organic frozen corn in a little olive oil and organic butter, and he ate a bowlful for breakfast.  This was eating outside the “box” for him.

My other grandson and granddaughter wanted frozen waffles topped with pure maple syrup and hemp seeds (we call them sprinkles).  The hemp seeds add protein and healthy fats, which the brain needs to function at its best.  My granddaughter took raw cashews (good source of calcium) in her snack bag, and my grandson took raw sunflower seeds (good source of vitamin E).

Two of my three grandkids drank some chlorophyll water (we call it leprechaun juice because it’s green).  Chlorophyll is what makes leaves green.  It helps increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.  We use one from Nature’s Sunshine that’s made from alfalfa and contains spearmint oil, which is a natural remedy for indigestion and bloating.  I mix about one teaspoonful into eight ounces of water.

I remind them to drink water in the mornings to hydrate their brains so they’ll be ready to think.  We do a little math to explain the average amount they need to drink each day.  They divide their weight by two to get the number of ounces of water.  Since they often consume water in bottles, we decide how many they need to drink to meet their daily requirement.

I asked one of my grandsons if he would eat dragons’ tails (green beans) or broccoli for breakfast.  He said yes!  I told him that was eating outside the “box”.  Guess what I’m going to serve in the morning?

My grandchildren are helping me experiment with different “energy bar” recipes.  The first one I tried was the consistency of sticky cookie dough, which they enjoyed as an after-school snack and again this morning.  I mixed almond flour (a handful of ground almonds) with collagen powder (protein), raw honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut flour, vanilla, unsweetened peanut butter, and dairy-free chocolate chips.  They were a hit!

I also try to use meal time to teach them to read ingredients on packaged foods and drinks.  Little by little, we must teach our children to learn to be healthy.  It’s foundational to their success!

Come on over to the Learning to be Healthy Facebook Group and share some healthy breakfast and snack tips or a favorite energy bar recipe!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Your Brain on Sugar

Refined sugar creates inflammation, which decreases blood flow to the brain.  This can trigger anxiety, depression, fatigue and headaches.  Studies done by Johns Hopkins University have even implicated sugar as a trigger for seizures!

Sugar lights up the brain’s dopamine pathways similar to that of drugs and alcohol.  Research done by Dr. David Kessler found that rats worked much harder for a milk shake high in sugar and fat, and the more sugar that was added, the more they consumed.

Stress increases cortisol levels, which can increase appetite and cravings for sugar.  Lack of sleep (less than six hours a night) contributes to stress and signals the brain to release hormones that increase appetite and sugar cravings.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that consuming sugar forms harmful molecules (AGEs) that can damage the brain, as well as the collagen and elastin that helps keep skin firm and supple.

Refined sugar comes in many forms.  Packaged foods often contain several sources of sugar.  Some of its many names include:

Sugar/Invert Sugar

Lactose/Maltose/Galactose/Dextrose/Fructose/Glucose (words ending in “ose”)

High-fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup

Maltodextrin

Dehydrated Cane Juice/Crystals

Sucanat (better form of refined sugar)

Malt Syrup/Barley Malt

Turbinado Sugar

Honey/Agave (unless raw, it may be refined)

Beware of how much sugar you’re getting from all sources–sauces, dressings, cereals, crackers, nut butters, snack foods, etc.  Even if you’re eating a “health” food, check the ingredients!

Whole carbohydrates contain fiber, which decreases inflammation and cholesterol, which improves blood flow to the brain.  Fiber reduces how quickly blood sugar is elevated and helps release steady fuel to the brain, preventing sudden “crashes”.  Always check the labels of packaged foods for fiber content.  Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in your daily diet.

Replace liquid sugar (soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea, etc.) with water, green or herbal tea, or lemonade sweetened with raw honey or raw stevia.

Only consume fruit juice in moderation.  Instead, eat whole fruit, which contains fiber.

When consuming an occasional sweet treat, add some fiber to it.  Top your ice cream with nuts.

Subtract the number of fiber grams per serving from the number of carbohydrates per serving to see how actively the food/beverage will raise your blood sugar.  Try to keep this number between 15 to 25 grams, especially if you are trying to lose weight or have blood sugar challenges.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist I& Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.com/healthy-start-30-day-challenge.html

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

A healthy brain is made of healthy fats!

A healthy brain is key to making healthy choices.  The brain needs good blood flow, and inflammation can decrease blood flow and increase the risk of disease, including memory loss and dementia.  Diet plays a key role in reducing or increasing inflammation.

Healthy fats build healthy brains.  Our brains are 60% fat.  Bad fats increase “brainflammation,” and good fats decrease “brainflammation”.  Inflammatory fats cause plaque to be formed in our arteries, decreasing blood flow to the brain.  Plaque can also form in the brain as a result of inflammation.  This can set the stage for memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADD, etc.

Many studies show the benefit of a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, including a decreased risk of dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss.  Those with ADD and depression are often found to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  Conversely, diets rich in these healthy fats tend to improve mood and emotional well being.

Eating one or two servings of wild-caught fish per week can help improve your omega-3 levels.  Farm-raised fish contain less omega-3 fats than wild-caught.  You might also consider taking a fish oil supplement that is certified mercury free.

Other sources of foods rich in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia and hemp seeds, egg yolks (from pastured chickens), avocados, spinach, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and organic edamame (soybeans).  Add a handful of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet, and eat two or more servings of vegetables at each meal.

The worst inflammatory fats are man-made fats known as “trans-fats”.  These include “hydrogenated” and partially-hydrogenated” oils, margarine, shortening, and even refined vegetable oils that have been overly processed.  These are the kinds of fats found in most packaged foods and used in fast-food restaurants.  Always read the ingredients, because a product can contain up to half a gram of trans-fat and legally claim to have no trans-fat.  It all adds up!

Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation.  The American diet is loaded with omega-6 foods.  Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all contain omega-6 fatty acids and are found in most packaged foods like chips, crackers, baked goods, and frozen foods.  Animal protein also contains omega-6 fats.  Eat twice as many vegetables as meat to help reduce inflammation.  Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com                                                                                                             (Free download: 10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)

www.learningtobehealthy.com/healthy-start-30-day-challenge.html

www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa                                                    (Connect with other health-minded people)

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www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Nature’s Sunshine)

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

The Brain/Body Connection: Stress

How are your New Year health resolutions going?  Are you staying focused?  A healthy body requires a healthy brain.  Chronic stress can interfere with both.

Chronic stress constricts blood flow to the brain, which can lower brain function.  A Canadian study showed that stress hormones decreased activity in the brain that controls cognitive function and emotional balance.  This makes it harder to stay focused and make healthy decisions.

Stress increases cortisol levels.  One study showed that older adults with chronically high levels of cortisol performed worse on memory tests than those with low to moderate cortisol levels.

Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are linked to an increase in appetite and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.

Stress can interfere with sleep, and a lack of sleep (less than seven hours per night) can trigger an increase in cortisol and interfere with hormones that control appetite.

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, digestive disorders, and weaken the immune system.

Stress can make you feel tired and less inclined to exercise.  A lack of exercise can decrease blood flow to the brain.  On the flip side, too much exercise can promote physical stress.

Some ideas for managing chronic stress:

  1.  Prayer has been shown to calm stress and improve brain function.  Studies point out that prayer reduces depression and anxiety, improves focus, and protects the brain from cognitive decline due to aging.  Prayer seems to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, the area involved in planning, making decisions, and self-control.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”  Isaiah 26:3.  “Give all your worries to God, for He cares about you.”  1 Peter 5:7
  2. Uplifting music can calm the mind and body.
  3. Lavender has been researched and shown to reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.  Add it to a bath or diffuser.  I like to buy small glass bottles with roller tops to make lavender oil to rub onto wrists or temples to help calm stress.  It may even help to lower blood pressure.
  4. Laughter really is the best medicine!  “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”  Proverbs 17:22.  Laughter releases feel-good hormones and helps reduce dangerous stress hormones.
  5. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps increase serotonin and/or dopamine, which act as natural anti-depressants.  L-theanine can also be found in supplement form but should not be taken by pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  6. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts produce stress!  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8.
  7. Eat foods high in B-vitamins to help with mood and stress.  They also help metabolize fats, which are needed for brain health.  Whole grains, nuts, seeds, brown rice, and nutritional yeast are some good sources of B-vitamins.  A healthy balance of good intestinal bacteria helps the body make B-vitamins.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com/healthy-start-30-day-challenge.html

www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.